Broadway fans won’t have to rely on CBS’ Grease Sing-a-Long for their would-have-been Tony night celebrations: the Broadway On Demand streaming service, with support from the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League, will present a one-hour celebration of theater and the Tony Awards on Sunday, June 7 at 6 pm ET.
The new special, directed by Tony Award nominee Lonny Price (2000’s A Class Act, the 2016 doc Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened), will stream on TonyAwards.com and BroadwayOnDemand.com, and will serve as a fundraiser for both the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League, presenters of the annual Tonys. Specifically, the evening will support The American Theatre Wing’s Education and Professional Development initiatives and The Broadway League Foundation’s efforts to train young artists around the country.
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Details on cast and performances were not announced, but the special will be written by Tony nominee Karey Kirkpatrick, Steve Rosen, David Rossmer, Kate Wetherhead and Lauren Yee. Musical Direction & Supervision is by Grammy Award winner Jason Howland with Choreography by Sarah O’Gleby.
“While the level of need within our community right now is overwhelming,” said Heather Hitchens, President & CEO of the American Theatre Wing, “so too is the generosity we continue to see every day. We are very grateful for Broadway On Demand for designing this wonderful opportunity for fans to celebrate Broadway and the Tony Awards while supporting the work we are doing to help those affected by this crisis.”
Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League, said, “Given all the devastating ways that this pandemic has affected our educational system, providing educational and training opportunities to those who otherwise might not have access feels more vital than ever before.”
Plans for this year’s Tony Awards have not been announced – possibilities include a delayed ceremony, a cancelled ceremony or some other type of Tony-related televised special – but the awards were originally set to have aired on CBS June 7. With the ongoing Broadway pandemic shutdown, the vacant broadcast slot recently was filled by CBS with Grease Sing-a-Long, an installment of the network’s revived Sunday Night Movies franchise.
The scheduled airing of the 1978 movie starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John didn’t exactly sit well with some in the Broadway community. “You could do a benefit, special live in-home performances, even just a best-of special of past Tony performances,” tweeted actor Jeremy Jordan. “I would rather listen to my tone deaf uncle sing the entire Maltby and Shire catalog acapella than watch a f*#@ing Grease sing-a-long.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda responded to the Grease announcement by tweeting the meme of Michael Jordan giving an on-court stink-eye, and To Kill A Mockingbird‘s Gideon Glick wrote, “@CBS, I’m certain there are a million gays out there who could help you curate a greatest hits of the Tony Awards to air instead!”
The streaming Tony Awards celebration is produced by Erica Rotstein and Heather Shields. Broadway On Demand serves as Executive Producer.
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